Blake Allen has always had a kind heart and a vivid imagination, and those qualities led him to worry about less fortunate children who needed toys.
Blake wanted to do something for children both near and far, so he is working on toy drives to help local children as well as those in Florida who lost possessions during the hurricane season.
Blake Allen poses with some of the toys he collected.
The eight-year-old hopes "Blake's Fun for Florida" and "Blake's Toys for Thomson" will bring some holiday cheer to those less fortunate. Blake will be working on the project until Dec. 3, which will give him enough time to ship toys for Christmas.
"I wanted to help kids," said the Thomson Elementary School third grader.
"In Florida, the hurricanes destroyed the kids' toys, and I wanted to get them more," he said after watching the news with his family.
Blake knows how much toys mean to children, and he recalled an attachment to a special toy he received when he was three. He wondered how children felt who didn't have those special kinds of toys, or how they felt when those toys were destroyed.
"I have feelings for people I don't even know," Blake said.
Dana Allen said her son has always empathized with others, so when he decided to collect toys for the less fortunate, her family encouraged her to support it.
"'Let him do it,' they all said, and the toys and donations began to come in," Mrs. Allen recalled.
News of the drive has spread by word of mouth, and Blake is now accepting toys and is using donations to purchase more, Mrs. Allen said.
He had plenty of ideas for shopping for boys, but Blake claims no knowledge of what type of toys girls like, so he turned to his little sister Hannah, 5, for help.
A social worker in Brevard County, Fla., Yasmin Majeed, will arrange for delivery to needy children there.
When first approached with Blake's idea, "I was touched and overwhelmed," said Ms. Majeed.
"It is very commendable. Blake is an outstanding citizen and a well rounded child to think of others like that."
Blake's generosity comes at a good time for Florida children: the demand for toys will be greater, and the donations will be less, because so many families are recovering from the impact of the hurricanes, Ms. Majeed said.
DOING THEIR PART
A list of people who have already contributed to Blake's efforts:
Thomson Country Club; Affordable Auto Glass; Omega Homes, Thomson; Dexter and Julia Ann Lovins; Ann Griswell; Mabel Lowe; Valeri Cushman; Cason Brooks; Ashley Brooks; Nasharro Lowe; Ophelia Roberts and Marinda Fuller